World news

News of the week selected by Impactscool – March 23rd

23 March 2020 | Written by La redazione

A new type of sensor gives robots the feel

With the help of Machine Learning, ETH researchers have developed a new low-cost touch sensor that can measure the distribution of force at high resolution and with great precision, allowing robot arms to grasp fragile objects. The extremely simple design of the sensor makes it inexpensive to manufacture, as the engineers point out. Essentially, it consists of an elastic silicone “skin” that has colored plastic microspheres and a normal camera fixed on the underside. When the sensor touches something, the silicone membrane is deformed, as well as the position of the microspheres that is recorded by the camera. At this point, AI comes into play which, from the type of deformation of the spheres, includes the position and intensity of the touch. The system, to learn to understand which pattern corresponds to a certain force, has been trained with a myriad of different “touches”.
Compared to other touch sensors this is able to manage contact with different objects and surfaces simultaneously and with greater precision.


A Lego brick can withstand a millennium in the ocean

The oceans of the world are flooded with millions of Lego blocks and these toys transformed into pollutants seem to have no intention of disappearing: new research has discovered that the classic Lego bricks take 100 to 1,300 years to completely disintegrate at sea, depending on variations in the composition of plastic and marine weathering that it undergoes. It is estimated that millions of blocks pollute the sea, in 1997 a container containing 5 million Lego fell overboard from a ship, and bricks are still found in many beaches today. Legos are made of Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, a resistant material that the Danish company intends to replace with new greener compounds within 10 years. In the meantime, the submerged bricks continue to dissolve very slowly, releasing microplastics into oceans around the world.


CoVID-19 has reduced air pollution

Coronavirus infection is having a global reach, so much so that WHO has declared a pandemic state, leading more and more states to minimize human trafficking. In addition, hopefully, to reduce the infection, this measure is also having a minor impact: the reduction of air pollution. It had already been noticed in China at the beginning of the epidemic, and now the phenomenon has also reached our country where data from the ESA Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite show a clear reduction of nitrogen dioxide throughout the Po Valley. Similar reductions are to be expected worldwide, but more detailed analysis will be required to find out the true impacts of this reduction.


Bill Gates leaves Microsoft

“Microsoft will always be an important part of my working life and I will continue to be busy with Satya and the company’s technical leadership to help her achieve her ambitious goals.” With these words Bill Gates leaves Microsoft to devote himself full time to philanthropy through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has been working for 20 years to improve the world from the point of view of health, climate, education and development.


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